How do I enable a user to run commands as a cluster admin?

If a user manages an OpenShift cluster and is able to login to the nodes of the cluster, they can run oc commands as a cluster admin. When they login remotely to the OpenShift cluster using the oc command, they would only be able to run commands with the access rights granted to their user.

It is possible to add roles to a normal user account which gives them the rights to do anything a cluster admin can do when logged in remotely, but this should be avoided if possible.

If a user needs to be able to run oc commands as a cluster admin when logged in remotely, it is better to add that user to the sudoer role. When in this role, and they run an oc command, it would still run with the access rights of their user. To run an oc command as a cluster admin, they use the ability granted by the sudoer role, to impersonate the special user called system:admin. This is done by supplying the --as system:admin option to the oc command.

$ oc get nodes --as system:admin

By requiring the extra step of needing to explicitly say you want to impersonate the system:admin, it makes it harder to make mistakes where you accidentally modify or delete resource objects you wouldn't normally have the access rights to modify.

Adding the sudoer role to a user can only be done by a user with existing cluster admin access. This is done using the oc adm policy add-cluster-role-to-user command.

$ oc adm policy add-cluster-role-to-user sudoer <username> --as system:admin

If you are using the REST API directly and need to perform an action as system:admin, you need to supply an additional header with the HTTP request against the REST API endpoint. The name of the header is Impersonate-User.


SERVER=`oc whoami --show-server`
TOKEN=`oc whoami --show-token`


curl -k -H "Authorization: Bearer $TOKEN" -H "Impersonate-User: $USER" $URL

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